Taste of Rockaway

November 20, 2013

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Save the date! Saturday, December 7th marks the first event of the newly formed “Hospitality and Entertainment Association for Restaurants and Taverns of Rockaway Beach”. The Taste of Rockaway one day event is 10 bucks for 10 dining establishments. That’s only a dollar per dish.

These Rockaway eatery owners want everyone to know that they are open for business all year ’round. More importantly, I’ve discovered that the boardwalk restrooms remain open during the winter months as well. An important detail to factor into your day of binge dining and drinking.

There are a limited number of passes that can be purchased in advance at any of the establishments. No time frame set for day of, just enjoy the freedom of using your pass during the business hours of each place.

Go to the event’s website for links to each restaurant.

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Swimming with Whales in Rockaway

September 20, 2013

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You don’t need a stinkin’ chartered boat to see whales. Nor do you need to schlep out to Montauk. Check this out. There have been whales hanging around Rockaway for a couple of weeks now. They’ve been spotted anywhere from Beach 90th to the Beach 120′s. How cool is that??

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Occupied

July 15, 2013

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It’s been nearly a year since I started renovations on the Rockaway house. I can finally say that both apartments are fully occupied now and I get to have my life back!

The project was meant to be a flip that would take a few months. Ok, so it took a bit longer with some minor and major disasters. Lemme fill you in on my setbacks. May I?

1. Disaster One. Crappy contractors. I can’t even begin to imagine how badly contractors rip off folks who don’t know a thing about the renovation process. When pipes separate and fall inside the wall and paint starts to peel after a few days, you MUST know that shortcuts were taken, right? This is why I DIY. Unless you want to spend the big bucks on a high end licensed contractor who comes with a thousand percent positive referrals, be verrrry careful.

Slow contractors who didn’t know what they were doing, contractors whose work had to be done over cost me an extra month or two in the beginning (and throughout). A month that I might have been able to unload the house on some poor, unsuspecting sucker prior to….

2. Disaster Two. Sandy. Yes, Superstorm Sandy is listed second to bad contractors. Not that I would ever want for anyone to go through that again, but believe it or not, the combination of incompetent team members set me back worse than the worst storm of the century. All in all, I was lucky. Just basement damage and some siding. Some pocket change from insurance that helped pay for the new boiler. It wasn’t so much the money that got to me as it was the time and momentum that was lost. With an NYC gas shortage and no heat or power at the house, this would set me back close to 2 months.

3. Disaster Three. Oops. Wrecked my car. Well, that’s what we get for trying to spend New Year’s Day working on the house. Some dumb bitch ran the red light and next thing we know, the car was totaled. Another bad luck/good luck story: We walked away! Set back of about 2 weeks until I dealt with the situation and got another car to get over to the house. Remember that the trains were not running after the storm.

Ok, those were the major setbacks. What do setbacks mean? It means you can’t fold. You have to readjust the original plan. With the real estate market down in Rockaway after the hurricane, I knew I’d be stuck with the house for awhile and I’d have to rent instead of sell. On the plus side, I’ll be earning back some money I lost.

This could all be blessings in disguise. The universe works in mysterious ways. It fucks with you but for good reason. Putting me through tests? Hell yeah. Making me hang on to the house until Rockaway rebuilds stronger and better than ever, so my house will be worth a small fortune?

Let’s hope so.

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Rented!

June 25, 2013

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It’s been a long and flooded road to get here, nearly a year since buying the house, but I am pleased as punch to let y’all know that my little property will be fully occupied by July 15th. And no, the renovation isn’t finished!

I needed to set a deadline and find out if anyone even wanted to live there. Figured that if I showed it for July 1st, it could look nice and then I’d have a few more weeks to finish up. Only two people called to purchase and a TON of renters called. There were some would-be tenants who didn’t fit the bill and that wasted time, but at the end of the day, I’m loving the tenants who will be moving in. It was also inspiring to see how many young people want to be part of Rockaway’s resurgence, so I’m kind of glad to be hanging on to the house now.

The apartments will be finished by the time they are inhabited. (Fingers crossed) There’s still backyard and basement work, but it will be livable.

First guys move into upstairs on July 1st.  Downstairs guy moves in on July 15th. Yes, all guys. The middle aged single-guy next door neighbor will be disappointed. He asked for hot female flight attendants.

So what’s my next project?

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Live from Rockaway, it’s…

June 4, 2013

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Just finished the house website! I actually bought the domain for Rockaway House but then it was just sooo much easier to create the site through Weebly, so I said WTH.

Here goes nuthin’. So, I guess this means the house is officially on the market, even though there’s still plenty of work left to do.

Showing this weekend. The fire under my butt has been lit.

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Reclaiming The Rock

May 20, 2013

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The city is working 24/7 to get the Rockaway beaches ready for the summer. Trains should be running by the end of this month. But if they build it, will they come?

Rockaway Taco reopened earlier this month. The few times I was there for lunch, business seemed good. This being before summer, on weekdays, without trains. Veggie Island opened their doors as well but I was there the very first day when all they had ready was some coffee and muffins. Full menu or not, folks came in to support the business.

Still. Crime is up. Residents are nervous about not having beach protection. The mood of some Rockaway natives is fairly negative. They worry that they remain unsafe while the concentration is put on tourism.

But Rockaway needs the tourism. Businesses were crushed. Some folks are still not back to their homes. Some will never return. This winter has been downright depressing in an area that’s already depressed.

Business advocates are working to lure commercial investors, but in my opinion, there aren’t enough residents to support these shops at the moment. Personally, I think Rockaway needs to offer incentives for newcomers such as artist live/work spaces. Non-residents need a reason to visit Rockaway year round: A huge surf school, a museum (perhaps a surfing museum?), a concert venue. Something along the lines of the DIA Museum that transformed the city of Beacon, NY.

One step at a time. Let’s see how this summer goes.

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Apartment One

May 6, 2013

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Open living/dining/kitchen area.

One half of the two family Rockaway house will be liveable by June 1st! As in liveable for normal people, not someone like me who no longer notices lack of switchplates and doorknobs. The self imposed deadline was set for this weekend to take some pictures and start spreading the word. Although it’s ready for it’s close-up, it’s a few days from being ready to show. Show by next weekend? Yeah, probably!!

The entire house will be for sale or rent by the end of this month. I call it a two story bungalow. It’s a cozy (that means small in realtor speak) 2 BR over 1BR, just under 1000 square feet for the whole house. Gotta do some comps and math to come up with prices. The website will get started (but not finished) today.

I’m on a roll baby and it feels good!

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Yeah, that toe kick needs to be painted and stove needs backsplash.

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The old singer sewing machine base trick. A favorite of mine.

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Long, narrow bedroom in the back of the house. I want to work a little magic on those plain, white doors if I get the time.

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Kitchen area before.

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Living room during demo.

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Six Months.

April 30, 2013

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Six months ago parts of New York and New Jersey literally came crashing down around us. Hurricane Sandy hit us pretty hard, but we’re still here, aren’t we? Many are still homeless and undergoing major renovations, some businesses never reopened, but progress is being made.

Can’t speak of what’s going on in every hard-hit neighborhood because I’ve been trapped working on the Rockaway house everyday. I do know that people are working 24/7 to get the area ready for summer.

The A train still isn’t running out to Rockaway. Last I heard, it should be back in service by June.

Parts of the boardwalk are being rebuilt. There will be boardwalk “islands”.

Concession stands are under renovation and will return.

Sand is being replenished.

Rockaway Taco reopens by the end of this week.

Bungalow Bar has reopened after having $10k worth of materials looted during the renovation.

Thai Rock opens their deck in early May.

The first wine bar ever in Rockaway plans to open by Memorial Day.

Rockabus will be starting up on Memorial Day weekend.

And come hell or high water (no pun intended), my friggin house will be ready to show by mid-May.

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Sliding Scale Restaurant

April 2, 2013

Shore Soup has been feeding hurricane Sandy victims in Rockaway since the perfect storm hit the area. Now they want to take it a step further and open up a pay-what-you-can restaurant. It will be mobile until they can get enough funds for brick and mortar. Good idea? Check out the video.

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MOMA PS1 Rocks it

March 7, 2013

Call for submissions from artists, designers and architects to put Rockaway back together again. MOMA PS1 started work on the temporary Rockaway dome that will house proposal exhibitions. Dome is set to open to the public in April. Progress, peeps!

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Are You Ready for the Summer?

February 22, 2013

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It’s far from from being back to normal but after struggling through the devastation of Sandy all winter, it looks like there will be a light at the end of the tunnel for Rockaway come this summer.

The summer brings only temporary fixes. The beach won’t be secured to ensure flooding doesn’t happen again. This band aid method makes residents nervous but at least the area will experience “life” anew, whether temporary or not. It will bring business to the shops that remain open despite residents not being able to spend the way they once did. It will be “alive” with surfers and children playing in the sand, people walking their dogs on the boardwalk. Think of it as a summer vacation before going back to properly rebuilding the area.

Not only will the boardwalk and concessions be up and running but the A train will be repaired by June. Any yes, as God(dess) is my witness, my house will be ready by then too!

*BTW, how much do I love that photo above with the ghost of Rockaway past looking upon the future? It gives me goosebumps.

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It’s Always Something in Rockaway

January 24, 2013

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It’s always something. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Rockaway has been through Sandy and the ongoing aftermath. Now the streets are being ripped up to install what I assume is new sewer lines. Totally not complaining about upgrades! If they are needed, then of course we should all be grateful.

It’s just sort of bad timing, is all.

Take yesterday for instance. I had a guy coming to reglaze a clawfoot tub in the morning, then I was going to buy a bunch of molding and studs for the house.

Guy starts stripping tub and sez he worries it won’t be warm enough to paint. I try to turn the heat up but wait…what happened to the heat? So, I borrow an electric heater from the neighbor so tub guy can get started and I begin the quest for firing up that boiler.

Batteries in thermostat are ok. I go outside to ask the crew digging up the street if they shut gas lines. No. Go back in to see if I have hot water. No water at all. Go back out to ask if they turned off water. No. “But your pipes may be frozen.” Let me say here that they were very helpful! Came in and told me they would put a torch on my lines to heat them up. I said I can do it with the heat paint stripper. So, Miss Wit and I sat there like schmucks in the freezing basement for nearly an hour heating the pipes. Nothing.

Here’s where I have the problem. Just like the plumbers who installed my boiler and couldn’t admit there was a gas leak (even though they actually fixed it), these guys would never acknowledge that they made a boo-boo. “Oh, it’s doubtful it’s on our side. We insulated the pipes as soon as we dug up the trench.” Finally, they knock on the door and tell me to keep my water running because they are starting to heat the main line coming into the house. Viola! Five minutes later I have water. And heat.

So, day wasted running around trying to get heat. Finally got to pick up some molding. Had to park in the middle of the torn up street up the block and run it into the house. Thankfully, Miss Wit was there to help.

Although this renovation definitely has more hiccups than any of my others, the whole episode yesterday was kind of just another day in the life of renovations. Unfortunately.

And yet. I live for this stuff.

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Well, They DID Recycle!

January 7, 2013

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I didn’t come up with the name “Reclaimed Home” for nothing. I love salvaging old materials and restoring neglected homes that were once full of life. Yesterday I was reminded why I torture myself with endless renovations.

You may look at the photo above and say “Meh, it’s a rotten old sign.” Indeed, you would be correct, but this find had me jumping up and down. I discovered it as I took up the rotten bathroom floor. (We’ll chat more about that later.) The previous owners or someone before them used it as subflooring. The writing was not facing up so I didn’t know it was there until I actually started taking up the floor.

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Unfortunately, the sign is in bad shape as the bathtub and toilet were leaking for years causing rot all the way through to the joists. Yes, the hole in the second photo was what the bathroom fixtures were sitting on. At any given time, someone could have ended up in the kitchen below while bathing or taking a dump. BTW, this is NOT the first old house I found such rot. Live in an old home? Pray they did the right thing when “renovating” as they often just cover things up. Enjoy your bath.

Anyway, back to the cool find. It seems to be more than one sign because I see “Library” and I also see “Club”. Actually, I’m guessing that perhaps they were the destination signs on the boardwalk? Anyone have a clue?

Whatever the case, even though they crumble in my hands, they will most definitely stay with the house as part of the reclaiming process. Right now, I’m thinking of embedding the edges in a plaster or concrete wall.

But it was nice to see that folks were reusing salvaged material even back then!

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Love Letter Counter

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NYC Hurricanes Past

December 7, 2012

I’m old enough to remember Hurricane Gloria in 1985. I lived in Coney Island with my parents at the time and went to the beach beforehand to catch some action but I wasn’t too impressed. Wasn’t born yet when Donna hit (Yay, I’m not completely ancient!) but this 8mm footage below is pretty amazing.

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